TORONTO – Amid concerns over unused doses of COVID – 19 vaccines, a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force says that provinces keep extra doses on hand to deal with potential outbreaks or disruptions to the rollout plans and he expects this will all change as millions of doses arrive in Canada in the coming weeks.
“You have to have a small handful of doses on hand in case there are, for example, an outbreak that you’ve got to reallocate doses to. And of course, in case there’s some supply chain disruption but that’s a smaller percentage, ”Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CTV’s Your MorningFriday.
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This comes just one day after federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CTV’s Your Morning that the federal government is not stockpiling any doses of the vaccines.
“The federal government is not seeing those vaccines at all, they go directly to the point of use… we’re really hoping the provinces and territories will continue to ramp up their inoculation processes because we need Canadians to get vaccines in their arms as soon as possible, ”she said.
The provinces are holding back small amounts of doses in order to have stock at the ready to deal with any disruption to vaccine rollout plans, Bogoch said.
“You should probably only have about to 15 per cent sitting in the freezer, and if you look at the di fferent provinces, you’ll see a different amount in the freezer in various provinces. ”
He said on average, the provinces are holding 19 per cent of delivered doses in case there’s a need to reallocate them, but this number is expected to drop quickly.
“Probably next week you’re going to see that number dropped because I think as the vaccines flow in consistently, you’re going to see them flow out consistently as well, ”he said.
Even with a consistent flow of vaccines into the country, the provinces and territories should not let their stock hit zero, Bogoch said.
“You still need a little bit on hand for supply chain disruptions for outbreaks for other things that come up where you need to rapidly get vaccines to different areas, ”He added.
While there have been reports of wasted doses, such as the1, 500 doses in Ontario during the first three months of the immunization campaign, Bogoch said it’s a very small percent age and vaccine waste is bound to happen.
“Obviously you want 100 per cent of the vaccines to go into eligible arms, but if you look at every other vaccine program, like influenza vaccine… it’s usually around three to four per cent waste, ”said Bogoch.
“ Guess what, life happens. People do not show up for the vaccine, some expire, your freezer gets unplugged, like lots of different things happen. ”
He said that the focus now is to get vaccines in arms, and that should be done quicker as Canada expects to receive millions of doses in the coming weeks.
“I think you’re going to see provinces improve the efficiency of vaccine delivery and when you have a consistent inflow of vaccines, your programs can run a little more smoothly, ”he said.
Things have already been picking up speed across the country, he said, and it’s just going to get better.
“The pace of vaccination in the country is just going to skyrocket, it’s going to be very inspiring to watch.”